May 3, 2016

When It Comes to Naval Might, U.S. Might Want to Go Small

Aircraft carriers put all of America’s might into a handful of large baskets.

The backbone of the current U.S. Navy is its aircraft carriers. With them, the military can steam up the Persian Gulf and send salvo after salvo of aircraft to reduce the infrastructure of the Islamic State to rubble. But bigger isn’t always better. Aircraft carriers essentially put all of America’s might into a handful of large baskets. What happens if Iran were to destroy one with a missile? “In a post–Cold War world, the United States has gotten used to the localized crisis, where the full force of U.S. attention could be directed,” writes Nikolas Gvosdev, contributing editor at National Interest. “It is time to regain the more global attitude that characterized U.S. strategic thinking — of being able to ‘walk and chew gum at the same time’ — and to prioritize and resource accordingly.” Unfortunately, aircraft carriers concentrate too much of America’s might in one place.

Perhaps it’s time for the Navy to start building smaller ships, argues Glenn Reynolds. Smaller ships are easier to wield together, and they do better against asymmetrical threats like drug running and human trafficking. Plus, sailors and Marines flying under Ol’ Glory in smaller ships can better respond to the small crises igniting across the globe. It makes sense for the future: America will continue to deal with terrorism. And if America becomes embroiled in a conflict with another country, her aircraft carriers will be one of the first military targets.

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